This is a purely ceremonial ranking that tries to satiate the ego of all
the three wings of the Indian state:
It still does not change the fact that India is not a country with perfect
separation of powers - it's a state where the Legislature enjoys slight
superiority over the Judiciary and Executive due to the former's ability to
impeach and suspend persons serving in the latter two wings. This stuff is
taught in basic civics classes now.
It's also strange that some "litigator" in this thread has claimed he's seen IAS
officers tremble before HC judges - that sort of stuff sounds like good
inspiration for a Jolly LLB franchise movie but doesn't reflect reality.
By this same strain of logic, SC judges tremble in front of Ajit Doval? He has
the Prime Minister's ear and access to methods of investigation and related
technology that's military-grade.
What is this drama about how a judge can summon IAS officers and even ministers
but that the same ministers/officers can't "summon" a judge? The power to summon
is something that's exclusively reserved for courts of law to carry out judicial
proceedings, it doesn't prove the superiority of judges. It's frankly quite
immature to think so.
Again, by the same logic only an SP can authorise PAC personnel to go and carry
out an encounter of dacoits. Judges can't order encounters. Does this mean
judges are suddenly not powerful?
Army officers, starting from the post of Brigadier, are allowed to take
unilateral action to a large degree at the border - this can quite literally
make the Republic enter a state of war - judges can't initiate war so I'd assume
they're not powerful either?
See how absurd this logic of "summons" is?
Now, coming to the actual comparison. A HC Judge vs an IAS officer.
High Court judges enjoy extra-ordinary privileges against arrests (well, so did
IAS officers above the joint secretary level until a certain judgement. You'd
still never see the police arrest a Jt. Sec., however).
HC judges are eligible for red-light beacons, one of the few functionaries who
still are. They get excellent bungalows and adequate support staff.
However, it's very difficult to make this comparison without really knowing the
grade at which said IAS officer is.
Is an HC judge more powerful than an SDM? Most definitely. While an HC judge
mostly cannot interfere directly in an SDM's work as they belong to different
wings of the state - they are still extremely senior and enjoy the benefit of
connections made over many decades. A freshly-minted SDM or DM simply cannot
However, compare a HC judge with a Chief Secretary or the state's Home Secretary
and things change extremely rapidly.
(The HC judge only has a ceremonial order of precedence rank going for them
Chief Secretaries and Home Secretaries work side-by-side with the Chief Minister
of the state. The Chief Secretary is the principal advisor to the CM on all
state matters. They are provided palatial housing right next to the CM and
his/her cabinet and freely use helicopters and such vehicles for their work
(Even DMs have former mansions and palaces reserved as their official residence
in most cities.)
They are the administrative lynchpin that connects the CM and the ruling
legislative party with any state's executive branch.
A High Court judge simply does not compare with the kind of functions that a CS
carries out. The CS broadly oversees every single department that the state runs
and specifically hold charge of multiple departments such as personnel,
administrative reforms, planning and so on.
They are also the highest nodal point that can be contacted for law-and-order
issues - the CS outranks the state's Director General of Police (DGP).
Compared to ALL of this, a HC judge's domain is indeed restricted. They're
powerful functionaries too with political contacts, but an IAS officer works far
more closely with public representatives than any judge does. They tend to
accumulate considerable political heft after years of manoeuvring through the
demands and challenges posed by MPs and MLAs.
A High Court judge has considerable power - they can order arrests for contempt.
But that's really it? Unless your case is in the docket and is eventually heard
by some HC judge who despises you, they can't really do shit to you.
On the other hand:
Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries' involvement in a citizen's life is huge.
Revenue, law and order, health, schooling and whatnot. I'm not going to
elaborate much on this but most people here are most likely aware of the kind of
power someone who can order around the DGP and controls land-revenue records